A convergent mixed methods study to explore the effect of unapproved part-time work on international students in South Korea.
In recent years South Korea has emerged as an attractive destination for international university students as the Korean government aims to accept 200,000 international students by 2023. Academically talented students who do not have financial support often apply to study in Korea, intending to find part-time work during the school term to pay for their education. The Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) has a process and guidelines for students to register their part-time jobs legally; however, students also find jobs outside these legal avenues. Universities that rely on international students for their enrollment struggle to maintain less than a 6% dropout rate among international students. These universities recognize the cause of attrition to be unregulated work which causes poor academic outcomes which further lead to a loss of scholarship and the inability to continue enrollment. The purpose of this study is to show what effect jobs that the MOEL does not approve have on academic outcomes in international university students in South Korea. This study employed a mixed methods convergent design to answer four research questions. The findings show that international students who work unapproved off-campus jobs have a lower mean GPA than students who work approved on-campus jobs that international students working at unapproved off-campus jobs do not have a significantly different level of persistence as measured by attrition than international students working at approved on-campus jobs. Students preferred not to work during the school year but had no alternative to pay for their tuition. Students who work unapproved jobs work long hours in challenging conditions with no protection or support from university or governmental agencies that are in place to assist student workers. Despite the lack of official support systems, they are just as likely to enroll in classes the following semester as students who work approved jobs.